JAMES TARANTO: Gay? Yay! Straight news gives way to propaganda.

Paul, Kentucky’s junior senator, “joked about President Obama’s changed postion [sic] on gay marriage in a speech in Iowa Friday: ‘Call me cynical, but I wasn’t sure his views on marriage could get any gayer,’ ” BuzzFeed.com reports. Brown, editor in chief of Newsweek, dubbed Obama THE FIRST GAY PRESIDENT on the magazine’s cover, which featured a photo illustration–at least we assume it wasn’t a straight photo–of the president with a rainbow halo. The New Yorker’s cover is a tamer version of the same joke, showing the White House with its Ionic columns in gay-rainbow colors.

Paul’s joke was widely condemned, with the lefties at ThinkProgress.org crowing that “even Tony Perkins” of the conservative Family Research Foundation found it “unacceptable.” Of course although Paul and Brown made essentially the same joke, the tone was different. Paul’s joke was mocking, perhaps even mean-spirited, while Brown’s (promoting an exultant piece by Andrew Sullivan) was a sympathetic in-joke.

Yet if you think about the substance of the joke rather than the tone, Brown’s version was worse, or at least was representative of something worse. Paul, it seems safe to say, was expressing the views of the majority of his constituents, nearly 75% of whom voted in favor of a 2004 constitutional amendment affirming the traditional definition of marriage. Politicians are supposed to take sides on questions of public policy.

News reporters are not.

Well, that was once the case. Now they’re just unpaid Democratic Party opeatives for the most part. The idea of an independent media has been eclipsed by crony journalism to go with the crony capitalism. As a blog commenter said the other day, “We may not quite be living under communism, but we are certainly living under its media apparatus.”